New to California
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California has so much to offer, but before you dig in and start exploring your new surroundings, make sure to run through our New CA Resident Checklist. It covers driver-related business you must quickly handle through the California Department of Motor Vehicles and beyond.
You’ll have some business to immediately take care of here as a new resident. Fortunately, we make it easy by offering a DMV Office Finder and tons of info on licensing, registration and more. Plus, you can make an appointment online to keep your visit as short as possible. After all, you have a great new state to check out!
The state gives new residents 10 days to trade their out-of-state driver’s license for a California license. Visit any DMV office (make an appointment) with:
- Social Security number.
- Your out-of-state driver's license.
- Proof of your true full name.
- Proof of your birth date and legal presence.
- A completed Driver License or Identification Card application (Form DL 44). This form cannot be downloaded. Request one by calling (800) 777-0133, or pick one up in person from any DMV office.
- Payment to cover license fee.
While applying, you'll also be required to:
- Pass a vision test.
- Pass a California traffic laws and sign test.
- Give a thumb print.
- Have a photo taken.
These requirements apply to drivers 18 and older.
No plans to get behind the wheel? Learn how to apply for a California ID card. The state offers two types: a regular ID card valid for six years and a senior citizen ID card valid for ten.
Changing your residential address to a California locale goes hand in hand with changing your auto insurance policy. You’ll also want to become familiar with CA’s car insurance requirements BEFORE you head to the DMV to register your vehicle. Learn more on minimum required coverage and financial responsibility.
Initial vehicle registration in California usually requires a smog check. Plus, certain areas enlist a biennial smog certification program requiring their residents to smog their vehicles every other year. Depending on what you drive, there are some exceptions (diesel-powered vehicles, hybrids, motorcycles, etc.). Learn more here.
The state gives new residents 20 days of entry or residency to register their vehicles and pay the required fees. Unless you obtained a special permit, you could face penalties. Learn more on getting new CA license plates and whether you need to update your vehicle title as well.
California makes it easy to update voter registration. You can register to vote when applying at your local DMV office for a CA driver license or ID card. Or if you’re not already conducting business at a branch, just stop in to pick up a form and later mail it to the preprinted CA Secretary of State address when you’re finished filling it out.
New California residents will submit address info when transferring their out-of-state driver's license and registration. However, if you are already in the state system with a CA address and need to update the DMV with a new one, learn how to easily change your address today.
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We put a lot of effort into making our content helpful & accurate. Please let us know if you see something that isn't clear or correct; we are here to ease any frustrations you may have while navigating DMV topics. We are not a government agency, please reach out to your local DMV, insurance agent, or respective professional for further assistance on specific situations.